hazy days

A videogame that humanizes China’s smog problem

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Hazy Days (PC, Mac) MIKE REN Mike Ren has been living in Shanghai, China for over a year now. “The city is great,” he says, but the air pollution, well, that isn’t so great. The smog of China is a matter that has reached global news. It even went viral in 2013 due to a photograph that could have been mistaken for a still from the 1982 movie Blade Runner. But Ren isn’t happy with this coverage in the media and has sought to humanize the issue through…


A 1,500-year-old board game has been unearthed in a Chinese tomb

When one thinks of the tombs plundered by videogame heroine Lara Croft, or even legendary adventure film archaeologist Indiana Jones, untold treasures and riches typically await them. During a 2004 excavation in China of first emperor of the Qin dynasty Qin Shi Huangdi’s self-constructed, terracotta warrior guarded, 2,300-year-old tomb, various artifacts were uncovered. Though not entirely reported until a full decade later in 2014 Chinese journal Wenwu, and translated recently into English and published in the Chinese Cultural Relics journal, the surprising find of an ancient board game was uncovered. The ancient game, having been unplayed for approximately 1,500 years,…


China is counting videogame purchases against your credit score

The Chinese government, with the assistance of national internet oligopolists Alibaba and Tencent, is in the process of introducing a new form of credit score that will factor in political compliance, the actions of one’s acquaintances, and the products one chooses to buy. Under this scheme, buying videogames is a surefire way of lowering your credit score.  That’s right: A Chinese national who purchased The Witcher 3 will have a harder time getting a loan. The credit score ostensibly exists to simplify the task of deciding who should receive money from financial institutions and at what rate. Based on a series of…


Kung fu epic The Assassin is impossibly, breathtakingly, stupidly gorgeous

We’re at Fantastic Fest this week and are bringing you impressions of our favorite films shown at the event. For all of our hot, hot takes, head over here. /// Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been working for a long time (he’s 68), but The Assassin has more verve than stuff from directors half his age. It’s an insanely vivid, pared-down wuxia fable that unsurprisingly won him Best Director at Cannes. From the first scenes, rendered a sumptuous inkblot black-and-white that makes the rest of the film’s color pop even more, this is thrilling, fresh stuff. Hou, along with DP Mark Lee Ping Bin (In…


There will be no hanky-panky in Chinese console games, apparently

It seems Russia is not the only regime making moralistic demands on videogames that seem outrageous to our modern Western lifestyles. According to the gaijin-centric Rocket News 24, China too is getting in on the censorship train, issuing statements to Japanese developers saying that characters wearing shorts, bikinis, and exposing outfits are not allowed. Also completely prohibited: bodily touching between males and females. Seriously. The blog trail runs cold into the Japanese language barrier, and doesn’t reveal which publishers received the letters, but one possible explanation is that they were specifically directed at devs known for hyper-sexualized depictions of anime,…